Header graphic for print

E. coli Blog

Surveillance & Analysis on E. coli News & Outbreaks

83 Tons of Hamburger Recalled Over E. coli

All American Meats, Inc., an Omaha, Neb. establishment, is recalling approximately 167,427 pounds of ground beef products that may be adulterated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The ground beef items were produced on Oct. 16, 2015. The following products are subject to recall:

80-lb. (approximate weight) boxes of “Ground Beef 80% Lean 20% Fat (Fine Grind)” with Sell By Date 11-03-2015 and case code 62100.
80-lb. (approximate weight) boxes of “Ground Beef 73% Lean 27% Fat (Fine Grind)” with Sell By Date 11-03-2015 and case code 60100.
60-lb. (approximate weight) boxes of “Ground Beef Round 85% Lean 15% Fat (Fine Grind)” with Sell By Date 11-03-2015 and case code 68560.
60-lb. (approximate weight) boxes of “Ground Beef Chuck 81% Lean 19% Fat (Fine Grind)” with Sell By Date 11-03-2015 and case code 68160.
60-lb. (approximate weight) boxes of “Ground Beef Chuck 81% Lean 19% Fat (Fine Grind)” with Sell By Date 11-03-2015 and case code 63130.
80-lb. (approximate weight) boxes of “Ground Beef Chuck 81% Lean 19% Fat (Fine Grind)” with Sell By Date 11-03-2015 and case code 63100.
The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. 20420” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

The problem was discovered on Oct. 30, 2015, when a positive result for E. coli O157:H7 from FSIS’ in-commerce surveillance program testing was traced back to the establishment. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2–8 days (3–4 days, on average) after exposure to the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5-years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them.

Chipotle Tied to E. coli Outbreak

Update: AP now reports that Washington and Oregon Health officials are investigating an E. coli outbreak linked to six Chipotle restaurants in Washington state and Oregon, health officials said Saturday. Three people in the Portland area and at least 19 people in Washington have become sick after eating at the Mexican food chain since October 14.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports that the Skagit County Department of Public Health announced Friday that it has closed Chipotle Mexican Grill in Burlington pending an investigation of several E. coli infections among recent diners.

Of five cases under investigation since October 15, four individuals were hospitalized, according to the health department news release. Results of specimens sent to the state health lab for analysis are expected early next week.

The Department of Public Health advised those who have had close contact with someone ill with symptoms of E. coli infection to see a doctor. Symptoms include diarrhea (often bloody), abdominal cramps, vomiting and nausea.

Uncle John’s Old Fashioned Apple Cider Recalled After E.coli Test

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development today issued a consumer advisory for Uncle John’s Old Fashioned Apple Cider produced by Uncle John’s Cider Mill located at 8614 US-127 in St. Johns, MI, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Shiga-toxin producing E. coli bacteria. Consumers who have purchased this product at Uncle John’s Cider Mill are urged not to consume it and dispose of the product immediately.

A routine, random sample collected by an MDARD food inspector tested positive for the Shiga-toxin producing E. coli by the department’s Geagley Laboratory. No illnesses have been reported to date. Uncle John’s has voluntarily ceased sales of cider awaiting further test results.

This advisory affects approximately 1,200 gallons of cider produced on October 17. The cider was sold at the cider mill from the retail cooler, packaged in various sized plastic jugs with a sell by date of October 30, 2015; or served directly to consumers by the cup as cold cider, frozen cider slushes and hot cider, from October 18 through October 21.

The E. coli symptoms  vary by individual, but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is not very high (less than 101˚F/less than 38.5˚C). Most people get better within 5–7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening. Around 5–10% of those diagnosed with Shiga-toxin producing E.coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. Signs that a person is developing HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. Persons with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems. Most persons with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

An Apple Juice E. coli Outbreak?

High Hill Ranch, located in the community of Camino in El Dorado County, has initiated a voluntary recall of its unpasteurized apple juice following notification from local health officials of suspected contamination with bacteria, likely Escherichia coli (E. coli.). El Dorado County health officials are warning consumers to not drink and dispose of any unpasteurized apple juice purchased from High Hill Ranch on or after October 6, 2015.

The El Dorado County Environmental Management and Public Health divisions were notified this week by the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services of at least seven (7) cases of E. coli illness among Sacramento County residents who consumed the unpasteurized apple juice from High Hill Ranch in mid-October. The apple juice was consumed at home or at High Hill Ranch. One person has been hospitalized and is expected to recover.

E. coli is caused by the Escherichia coli bacteria. People can get sick when they consume food or drink that is contaminated by the bacteria. Symptoms of E. coli illness typically include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and sometimes low-grade fever. The symptoms usually occur within 3-4 days after exposure, but can occur anywhere between 1 to 12 days after exposure.

Most people who get sick from E. coli recover within 5 to 7 days. Supportive care, such as making sure a person drinks plenty of liquids and gets rest are important for people with the illness. For severe cases, particularly in children, elderly people or those with underlying health problems, a health care provider should be consulted.

The El Dorado County Environmental Management Division, Public Health Division and California Department of Public Health are working closely with the management at High Hill Ranch to determine the source of the potential contamination. The High Hill Ranch Management has pulled the product from the shelves.

Marler Clark Retained in Maine Petting Zoo E. coli Outbreak

The 2015 Oxford County Fair that was held in mid-September will be remembered for the death of one child and the severe illness to another due to infections with E. coli O111. The common exposure to the two children was the same petting zoo.

The investigation is ongoing, but what has appeared thus far indicates a venue that followed few of the warnings and recommendations from decades of prior outbreaks that had sickened thousands. As more information comes out over the next week on what the Fair did and did not do to prevent these families’ tragedies, the fair should be judged from health official recommended since 2001.

“Reducing the Risk for Transmission of Enteric Pathogens at Petting Zoos, Open Farms, Animal Exhibits, and Other Venues Where the Public Has Contact With Farm Animals” – 2001 CDC Recommendations:

  • Information should be provided. Persons providing public access to farm animals should inform visitors about the risk for transmission of enteric pathogens from farm animals to humans, and strategies for prevention of such transmission. This should include public information and training of facility staff. Visitors should be made aware that certain farm animals pose greater risk for transmitting enteric infections to humans than others. Such animals include calves and other young ruminant animals, young poultry, and ill animals. When possible, information should be provided before the visit.
  • Venues should be designed to minimize risk. Farm animal contact is not appropriate at food service establishments and infant care settings, and special care should be taken with school-aged children. At venues where farm animal contact is desired, layout should provide a separate area where humans and animals interact and an area where animals are not allowed. Food and beverages should be prepared, served, and consumed only in animal-free areas. Animal petting should occur only in the interaction area to facilitate close supervision and coaching of visitors. Clear separation methods such as double barriers should be present to prevent contact with animals and their environment other than in the interaction area.
  • Hand washing facilities should be adequate. Hand washing stations should be available to both the animal-free area and the interaction area. Running water, soap, and disposable towels should be available so that visitors can wash their hands immediately after contact with the animals. Hand washing facilities should be accessible, sufficient for the maximum anticipated attendance, and configured for use by children and adults. Children aged <5 years should wash their hands with adult supervision. Staff training and posted signs should emphasize the need to wash hands after touching animals or their environment, before eating, and on leaving the interaction area. Communal basins do not constitute adequate hand washing facilities. Where running water is not available, hand sanitizers may be better than using nothing. However, CDC makes no recommendations about the use of hand sanitizers because of a lack of independently verified studies of efficacy in this setting.
  • Hand-mouth activities (e.g., eating and drinking, smoking, and carrying toys and pacifiers) should not be permitted in interaction areas.
  • Persons at high risk for serious infections should observe heightened precaution. Everyone should handle farm animals as if the animals are colonized with human enteric pathogens. However, children aged <5 years, the elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons (e.g., those with HIV/AIDS) are at higher risk for serious infections. Such persons should weigh the risks for contact with farm animals. If allowed to have contact, children aged <5 years should be supervised closely by adults, with precautions strictly enforced.

“Compendium of Measures to Prevent Disease Associated with Animals in Public Settings, 2013” – National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians Animal Contact Compendium Committee 2013:

Venue operators should take the following steps:

  • Become familiar with and implement the recommendations in this compendium.
  • Consult with veterinarians, state and local agencies, and cooperative extension personnel on implementation of the recommendations.
  • Become knowledgeable about the risks for disease and injury associated with animals and be able to explain risk-reduction measures to staff members and visitors.
  • Be aware that direct contact with some animals is inappropriate in public settings, and this should be evaluated separately for different audiences.
  • Develop or obtain training and educational materials and train staff members.
  • Ensure that visitors receive educational messages before they enter the exhibit, including information that animals can cause injuries or carry organ- isms that can cause serious illness.
  • Provide information in a simple and easy-to-under- stand format that is age and language appropriate.
  • Provide information in multiple formats (e.g., signs, stickers, handouts, and verbal information) and languages.
  • Provide information to persons arranging school field trips or classroom exhibits so that they can educate participants and parents before the visit.

Venue staff members should take the following steps:

  • Become knowledgeable about the risks for dis- ease and injury associated with animals and be able to explain risk-reduction recommendations to visitors.
  • Ensure that visitors receive educational messages regarding risks and prevention measures.
  • Encourage compliance by the public with risk- reduction recommendations, especially compliance with hand-washing procedures as visitors exit animal areas.

Recommendations for nonanimal areas are as follows:

  • Do not permit animals, except for service animals, in nonanimal areas.
  • Store, prepare, serve, or consume food and beverages only in nonanimal areas.
  • Provide hand-washing facilities and display hand- washing signs where food or beverages are served.
  • Entrance transition areas should be designed to facilitate education.
  • Post signs or otherwise notify visitors that they are entering an animal area and that there are risks associated with animal contact.
  • Instruct visitors not to eat, drink, smoke, and place their hands in their mouth, or use bottles or pacifiers while in the animal area.
  • Establish storage or holding areas for strollers and related items (e.g., wagons and diaper bags).
  • Control visitor traffic to prevent overcrowding.
  • Exit transition areas should be designed to facilitate hand washing.
  • Post signs or otherwise instruct visitors to wash their hands when leaving the animal area.
  • Provide accessible hand-washing stations for all visitors, including children and persons with disabilities. Position venue staff members near exits to encourage compliance with proper hand washing.

Recommendations for animal areas are as follows:

  • Do not allow consumption of food and beverages in these areas.
  • Do not allow toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items to enter the area.
  • Prohibit smoking and other tobacco product use.
  • Supervise children closely to discourage hand-to- mouth activities (e.g., nail biting and thumb sucking), contact with manure, and contact with soiled bedding. Children should not be allowed to sit or play on the ground in animal areas. If hands become soiled, supervise hand washing immediately.
  • Ensure that regular animal feed and water are not accessible to the public.
  • Allow the public to feed animals only if contact with animals is controlled (e.g., with barriers).
  • Do not provide animal feed in containers that can be eaten by humans (e.g., ice cream cones) to decrease the risk of children eating food that has come into contact with animals.
  • Promptly remove manure and soiled animal bedding from these areas.
  • Assign trained staff members to encourage appropriate human-animal interactions, identify and reduce potential risks for patrons, and process reports of injuries and exposures.
  • Store animal waste and specific tools for waste removal (e.g., shovels and pitchforks) in designated areas that are restricted from public access.
  • Avoid transporting manure and soiled bedding through nonanimal areas or transition areas. If this is unavoidable, take precautions to prevent spillage.
  • Where feasible, disinfect the area (e.g., flooring and railings) at least once daily.
  • Provide adequate ventilation both for animals and humans.
  • Minimize the use of animal areas for public activities (e.g., weddings and dances).
  • If areas previously used for animals must be used for public events, they should be cleaned and disinfected, particularly if food and beverages are served.

A view from the Courtroom:

Under premises liability law, the entity or entities responsible for managing an animal exhibition have a duty of care to those it invites onto the premises. This duty includes the responsibility to adequately reduce risks the entity is or should be aware of. The duty also carries a responsibility to warn fairgoers of risks present at the exhibition.

The principles of negligence also revolve around the risks to fairgoers that animal exhibitors know of or reasonably should know of. To successfully bring a negligence claim, a sickened person would need to show that the actions of an animal exhibitor fell below a reasonable standard of care in the operation of the exhibit. Failing to implement the well-established recommendations of the CDC and NASPHV constitutes falling below that standard of care.

Both bases for liability on the part of animal exhibitors-premises liability and negligence-carry with them a burden of education on the part of the exhibitor. Because the law holds people to a standard of what they reasonably should know, ignorance of the risks involved is not an effective defense. The law thus provides no impetus to stray from the course of action that is best for both customers and exhibitors in the first place-recognizing the risk and taking steps to reduce it.

E. coli O157:H7 Warning in South Royalton Vermont Worthy Burger

E.-coli1Update:  5 confirmed, 2 probable E. coli cases.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling and Jordan Cuddemi of the New Hampshire Valley News report that Vermont Health officials are investigating a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 cases and warning physicians to watch for more cases.

According to Hongoltz-Hetling, Vermont health officials are warning clinicians to be on the lookout for signs of E. coli, after at least five Vermont residents contracted infections caused by the food-borne bacteria. The locations of the five laboratory-confirmed cases, and a sixth case listed as “probable,” were not divulged by the Vermont Department of Health, which asked doctors to report instances of patients with diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting to state health officials immediately.

According to Cuddemi, a South Royalton, Vermont restaurant voluntarily closed for several days recently and switched food vendors after being contacted by state officials who are investigating an E. coli “cluster” that has sickened at least five people.

Jason Merrill, executive chef at Worthy Burger, said the Vermont Department of Health approached the restaurant’s leadership team last week and asked them to consider changing some of their food vendors out of precaution.

Hamburger Recalled Over non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli

Schrader Farms Meat Market, a Romulus, N.Y., establishment, is recalling approximately 20 pounds of ground beef product that may be contaminated with non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The ground beef item was produced on September 2, 2015. The following product is subject to recall: [View Labels (PDF only)]

  • 1-lb. packages containing of “SCHRADER FARMS Meat Market Ground Beef” or “SCHRADER FARMS Meat Market GROUND BEEF, BULK” with a pack date of September 2, 2015.

The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “Est. 44950” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These products were sold at the Schrader Farms retail store in Seneca County, New York.

The problem was discovered during routine establishment testing, however this establishment released product into commerce prematurely (Review of Testing Results). FSIS and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Many clinical laboratories do not test for non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), such as STEC O26, O103, O45, O111, O121 or O145 because it is harder to identify than STEC O157. People can become ill from STECs 2–8 days (average of 3–4 days) after consuming the organism. Most people infected with non-STEC E. coli develop diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe. Infection is usually diagnosed by testing of a stool sample. Vigorous rehydration and other supportive care is the usual treatment; antibiotic treatment is generally not recommended.

Most people recover within a week, but, rarely, some develop a more severe infection. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is uncommon with STEC O26, O103, O45, O111, O121 or O145 infection. HUS can occur in people of any age but is most common in children under 5 years old, older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately

FSIS and the company are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

10 with E. coli Linked to Los Chilangos

From Seattle/King County Department of Health:

The investigation team is continuing to figure out where the E. coli O157 came from. We expected to find additional people who were exposed to the E. coli O157 linked to Los Chilangos before we closed them. To this point, we are able to say that there are four more people impacted by this outbreak, bringing the total to ten. These are not people who are newly ill, but rather people who were unable to be reached during our initial interview process or people who did not recall eating at Los Chilangos at the time of their interview. None of these nine people became sick after August 21.

E. coli in Seattle

CN2mSrKVEAAQZu9Seattle King County Public Health is currently investigating an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 – one of the most serious foodborne illnesses you can contract. Our thoughts are with the families affected by this outbreak, and we appreciate the support of the community as we work to protect the health of the public.

A person can get an E. coli O157 infection from many different sources: by eating or drinking something contaminated with animal or human fecal matter, through animal contact, or through contact with another person who has an E. coli infection. One of our responsibilities at Public Health is to track down these sources. When there are illnesses associated with any one of the more than 12,000 food establishments in the county, we search for contaminated products, ill food workers, or improper food handling.

We follow specific steps to find clues that help us pinpoint the source(s) that may be linked to illness. Here are key steps of this current investigation.

  • We interviewed people who got sick.

At this time, we know that six people have been infected with the same strain of E. coli (three have been hospitalized). When Public Health determines that anyone is sick from a serious foodborne illness like E. coli, we interview them to determine what may have caused their illness. We do this to find the source of the outbreak and prevent others from getting infected. In this instance, through a few initial interviews with ill people, we determined that everyone who became sick had something in common – they ate food prepared by a local food vendor called Los Chilangos. Public Health took swift action and required Los Chilangos to cease operations.

  • We investigated a food business that was associated with the people who got sick.

But we didn’t stop there. Los Chilangos serves food at seven farmers markets in King and Snohomish Counties, operates two food trucks, and also caters events. Los Chilangos utilizes a shared kitchen space, called a commissary kitchen. The kitchen that they use is Eastside Commercial Kitchen, where they share space and equipment with about a dozen other food businesses.

  • We intervened at the specific site and operation.

The condition of the commissary and the potential for cross contamination were deemed an imminent health hazard, and the health officer issued a cease and desist order to the commissary on Thursday, August 27. Additionally, all of the food vendors permitted by Public Health that use this kitchen were also told to cease operations. Recognizing that this lapse in operation hurts business, our team has worked diligently with these vendors to find new places for them to resume their work and remind them about important food safety measures.

  • Next steps: tracing the source

As of today, the investigation isn’t over. We are still investigating the source of the E. coli.  If we determine that a food contained the E. coli bacteria, we will try to trace it back to stores, suppliers, and even farms to address the root of the problem with corrective actions, if possible.

But, it’s possible that the source of E. coli may never be determined. E coli is often linked to beef, but it can also be linked to produce, such as spinach and sprouts, along with a variety of other foods such as unpasteurized juices, raw milk, game meats, and other common foods.

For outbreaks such as this one, we continue to monitor the situation and look for other common factors among ill people. While we know Los Chilangos is linked, they may not be the only ones involved. For instance, the source of E. coli could be served by other vendors.

We are currently working with all of the businesses connected to this outbreak to make sure that they are not using any products that may have become contaminated and that they have food safety measures in place. This includes having the businesses address needed repairs to their equipment, providing education to their staff, and ensuring their operations are safe to open.

KIRO’s Amy Clancy reports that Los Chilangos is a link to at least six E. coli cases in King and Snohomish Counties. Los Chilangos serves food at seven farmers markets in King and Snohomish counties, operates two food trucks, and also caters events. Los Chilangos uses Eastside Commercial Kitchen, where they share space and equipment with about a dozen other food businesses.

King County Public Health is investigating six E. coli cases that appear to be linked to a food truck that visited farmers markets.

  • 6 sickened
  • 3 hospitalized
  • Food trucks operated at 7 farmers markets in King, Snohomish counties
  • Los Chilangos food trucks shut down

“Through a few initial interviews with ill people, we determined that everyone who became sick had something in common – they ate food prepared by, a local food vendor called Los Chilangos,” King County Public Health staff said in a statement.

The department required the food truck to stop selling food.

A 4-year-old girl is one of those affected, and her mother said her daughter became sick after eating at Los Chilangos around August 8.

The food truck visited the Issaquah and Sammamish farmers markets. Deanna Buder said her 4-year-old daughter started experiencing pain and swelling in her abdomen, and stopped eating. Tuesday is her seventh day at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Fulton, Wabash, and Marshall Counties Investigating E. coli Outbreak

The six cases currently being investigated include one death.

The Indiana State Department of Health has confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infection in three individuals as part of an investigation into reports of diarrheal illness in three northern Indiana counties. The cases are among a total of six illnesses currently being investigated.

ISDH is working with public health officials in Fulton, Wabash, and Marshall counties to determine the cause of illness in the three other individuals, and to monitor for diarrheal illness in family members or others who may have been in contact with all six individuals who became ill.